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Updated: 17 December 2004

Daily Service Bulletin Chebucto News Archive

Chebucto Community Net Office holiday hours

The Chebucto Community Net Office will be closing for the holidays at 5:00 PM, Thursday, December 23, 2004 and re-opening 1:00 PM, Tuesday, January 4, 2005. Volunteers will be available to answer support questions by email but telephone support and membership renewals will not be available.

The Chebucto Office recommends that members with expired or expiring memberships or accounts renew them before December 23, 2004 to avoid any possible service disruptions.

Chebucto Community Net first in Canada
to have RSS news feed

The Chebucto Community Net has become the first community net in Canada to have its own RSS news feed. Users with an RSS capable newsreader or web browser such as Mozilla Firefox can now subscribe to this feed and get all the latest Chebucto news as a live bookmark or read the feed in any number of other ways. More information on RSS and how to use it can be found here.

By putting up an RSS news feed, Chebucto Community Net is now able to alert our users and supporters in a fast and timely manner not only to important Chebucto news but also important general news such as new critical updates to widely used software or new security or scam alerts. We hope that people will take advantage of this new service to keep themselves informed fast and easy.

Updated - Recommended software list

With the recent interest in Internet security and the rise in various exploits meant to take over user machines, the Chebucto Office has compiled this list of recommended software for user computers running Microsoft Windows.

Web browser: Mozilla Firefox free from

Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from

Anti-Spyware Software:

Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from

FTP Software: FileZilla free from

RSS Newsfeed Reader: RSSOwl free from

We've added a free Open Source RSS news reader to our list of recommended software. RSS news feeds can be accessed a number of different ways and you should pick a way that suits your own usage. Mozilla Firefox's Live Bookmarks are one very easy way to make use of an RSS newsfeed - just click on the orange speaker icon that appears in the lower right corner of the Firefox browser window on any RSS newsfeed supporting page to subscribe to a Live Bookmark for that website. The RSSOwl newsreader offers even more RSS newsfeed reading options - just click on the orange RSS graphic - Chebucto Community Net RSS News Feed - you'll see on the bottom of most of our Chebucto Community Net web pages (including this one) and then copy the web address from your browser address bar into the RSS newsreader address bar and hit Enter. In RSSOwl you can then subscribe to this feed by dragging and dropping the newsfeed icon to your RSSOwl Favorites folder.

The Chebucto Office does not recommend using the Internet Explorer web browser for any use except for accessing Microsoft's own Windows Update page. Internet Explorer has been the subject of a number of reports recently pointing out vulnerabilities and security issues. The popular web browser has been targetted by virus writers in particular seeking to break into home computers to use them for criminal purposes such as sending out spam, sending out viruses to break into other computers and being used to disrupt services on other computer systems.

After many reports about vulnerabilities for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express email programs, and the constant stream of user complaints about randomly altered program settings and difficulty using the program, the Chebucto Community Net Office and the Chebucto Technical Committee recommend our users do not use either Outlook or Outlook Express as their email program.

Windows Users can find a selection of email programs available for download here and Macintosh users can find a selection of email programs here.

The recommendations for anti-spyware software and firewall software are in response to an increasing number of user machines that have been compromised to the point of unusability by advertiser-supported software and associated spyware and malware. Anti-spyware software can be updated with new definitions, the same way as anti-virus software is and can scan and fix problems as anti-virus software can. Note that it is not a substitute for anti-virus software and our recommendation to our users to have a good anti-virus program and keep it updated has never changed.

Firewall software is also effective in helping users control their computer not only as protection against outside network attacks but to provide control over what programs on the user computer are allowed to access the internet.

Keeping Microsoft Windows up to date is also very important. Windows XP users should have Service Pack 2 installed. All Microsoft Windows users should make a point of using Internet Explorer to visit the Microsoft Windows Update site at least once a month and download all critical updates.

New air conditioner for Chebucto machine room

[Photo: Workmen installing new air conditioner] Workmen this week installed a new five ton air conditioner in the machine room shared by Chebucto Community Net and the Dalhousie Math Department. The new air conditioner, which will be working together with the older air conditioner to keep the main machine room and an annex cool, became a necessity this year as the Math Department added a number of new servers for statistical genome research.

Keeping the closed-in machine room cool is of vital importance to offset the enormous amount of waste heat generated by all the servers. When the heat exceeds the ability to carry it off, power to the machine room is automatically cut off. In previous years Chebucto volunteers have manned the machine room overnight during air conditioning breakdowns so the doors could be kept open to the outside to let the hot air escape.

Chebucto group organizes successful protest

[Photo: Bush visit protesters] About 5,000 protesters showed up December 1, 2004 in an event organized by the Halifax Peace Coalition, a local community group whose website is hosted by Chebucto Community Net. The protest, to mark the visit to Halifax of controversial U.S. President George W. Bush, was widely declared to be a success both for the number of people who turned out and for the fact that the protest was completely peaceful with Halifax Regional Police reporting zero protest related arrests.

The Chebucto Beacon Photo Gallery story can be found here.

Chebucto Plus adding lines

The Chebucto Plus 56 K dialup service is adding another T1 digital line bringing the total number of available 56 K lines from 92 to 115 lines. The move is in response to an increasing number of users of the service. Since its implementation in November 1998, the Chebucto Plus service has been steadily increasing in size. Access to Chebucto Plus requires a $100 annual membership in the Chebucto Community Net Society.

The Chebucto text-only service recently cut five lines from that service due to lack of use. There are now fifteen lines on the text-only service, outputting on 33.6 K modems.

New Chebucto Backup Server

In November Chebucto Community Net added a new server to perform onsite system backups of all the Chebucto servers. This nightly backup provides insurance against catastrophic system or hard drive failure on any of the Chebucto servers. Previously system backups were done by Dalhousie University but there was a desire to bring this in-house both to lessen the burden on Dalhousie systems and to have better control over the backups themselves. Access to the backup server is tightly controlled and plans are underway to add an offsite backup to cover the possibility of a disaster affecting the Chase Building machine room itself.

It should be pointed out that system backups are not intended as a means of recovering deleted data or as an undo system for website editing. System backups are intended to be able to get Chebucto systems online again as soon as possible in case of major system failure.

Chebucto adds new anti-phishing filter

A new anti-phishing filter is the latest addition to Chebucto's already formidable array of email security tools. Phishing is the term used to describe a type of email fraud where an email will pretend to be from a bank or eBay, etc. and tries to trick users into sending along confidential personal account information to the fraud artist. The emails will use tricks in web code to make the user think they are sending their information to the real bank or business while they are in fact sending it to the crooks. The anti-phishing filter can detect these web code tricks and will substitute a warning and web code that won't work as the crooks intended.

Email fraud is a growth industry and has become very sophisticated in a short period of time. Chebucto has had effective and user configurable spam filtering and virus filtering for some time now and the addition of the anti-phishing filters provides yet another good reason to use Chebucto email services. Currently more than 94% of incoming email to Chebucto is spam, scam or virus mail and is successfully filtered out from real mail.

Chebucto Board news

Chris Watt has resigned as Secretary of the Chebucto Community Net due to time pressures from his job. Tanya Moxley was elected to the Executive Committee as Secretary at the December Board meeting. The Board of Directors of the Chebucto Community Net Society are looking for volunteers interested in becoming a Director and there is currently a vacancy created by the resignation of Reg Hody. The Chebucto Board meets once a month.

The Board of Directors is the group of 12 volunteers charged with running the Chebucto Community Net. Any person with a paid up membership in the Chebucto Community Net is eligible to become a Director, whether the membership is Assisted, Full, Supporting, Sustaining or any of the Family membership categories. Please consider volunteering. Technical knowledge helpful but not essential. Interested parties can send an email to with a brief write-up about themselves.

New secure online renewals

The Chebucto Community Net is pleased to announce that we can now offer secure online credit card payments for Chebucto membership renewals and service fees. The new service, available from our home page or directly
here, uses Internet standard 256 bit high-grade encryption to transmit credit card information securely to Chebucto's server in Halifax. Once there the information is stored using 1024 bit encryption. Transactions are processed next business day.

There is currently no known way to break 256 bit encryption except to try all possible 256 bit keys. There are 1.1 x 10 77 (a number with 77 zeroes after the one) such keys and estimates on how long to try them all range into several hundred trillion years. The 1024 bit encryption used to store the information on Chebucto's server has 1.7 x 10 313 possible keys and is even more secure. The service is temporarily using a secure certificate issued by the Chebucto Community Net which users must accept before they can access the site. This temporary certificate offers the same 256 bit encryption as a regular secure certificate.

New 1-800 Access for Plus!

Chebucto Plus users needing dialup access while travelling across North America can now connect using a toll-free 1-800 Access number. Time on the 1-800 Access line is booked in advance in one or two hour increments, $6.00 per hour or $10 for two hours. 1-800 Access details here

The 1-800 Access service has been a popular request for some time now. For the present, 1-800 Access is good only from anywhere in North America but if demand is sufficiently high, it could conceivably be expanded in the future.

Cool Chebucto hats available!

[Photo: Cool Chebucto hat - click to see larger photo]   We have available these excellent quality Chebucto Community Net hats. Click on photo to see larger version. These fashionable stone coloured washed cotton Chino twill hats are low fitting with adjustable strap and antique silver ring buckle for a perfect fit and are embroidered with the Chebucto Community Net logo and web address. Machine washable and drip dry with a pre curved peak, this hat will provide years of comfortable wear as well as showing your support for Halifax's own one-of-a-kind independent Community Net.

You can get your very own Chebucto Community Net hat from the Chebucto office for $20 or we can mail it out to you for an additional $10.

Chebucto Newspaper Column Give-aways!

[Photo: New Chebucto Mousepad] Chebucto's Mousepad newspaper column, written by Chebucto Board member Mark Alberstat with occasional help from some fellow Chebucto volunteers, is now archived here at Chebucto. The column is published every second week in the Sunday Chronicle Herald. The Mousepad focuses on computers and internet technologies and how they can be used by people for an almost infinite variety of purposes. People can write in questions to the column and if they are used they will get a cool new Chebucto Community Net mousepad. Email questions to the Mousepad at

Chebucto mousepads may be purchased from the Chebucto Office for $5 each or mailed out for $15 each. Contact to order.

Chebucto Users still tops in *.NS.CA SETI processing

[Photo: New SETI@Home interface] SETI, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, has been processing their radio telescope data with home users' computers for years now. Using an innovative screensaver which runs whenever the user computer is not in use, SETI has had more than 2,156,000 years of high quality computer processor time donated to it.

Of all the computer domains ending in the letters NS.CA, denoting Nova Scotia, now ranks number one, producing more than double the results of both the government of Nova Scotia and the vast resources of EdNet, the schools network combined. Current stats here. Chebucto users have sent in more than 35,000 results, representing more than 59 years of CPU time that would otherwise have been wasted.

In project news, re-observation of 226 points in the sky containing many of the best candidates generated from the first two years of SETI@home data has resulted in no positive matches. Researchers are currently working to identify a new set of candidates for re-observation using the remaining data while more comprehensive sky surveys using newer hardware are carried out. The SETI software is in the process of being upgraded and is now integrated with BOINC, a distributed computing platform which will allow home users to split their computing power among different projects at the same time.



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